CND Intersessional – 12th June 2015

Agenda Item 1

Vladimir Galuska of the Czech Republic was elected First Vice Minister of the Commission of Narcotic Drugs (CND)

Endorsement of nominations for Vice-chairs FINGOV. Announcements were made about FINGOV and ECOSOC. CND 52/13 nominations of co-chairs (Joint meeting)

  • Mr Belina Ruiz (Spain) put forward
  • Nicaragua (Other co-chair)

3rd ECOSOC Management and co-ordination meeting 20th-22nd July to discuss taking action on all resolutions and decisions

Upcoming meetings:

  • HONLAF: 14-18 September 2015
  • HONLAC: 5-9 October 2015 in Honduras
  • HONLAP October 2015 ESCAP

Agenda item 1: Subsidiary Bodies (Heads of national law enforcement authorities) HONLEA will first be hosted in Belgium (For European member states)

Remaining meetings will take place in other regions of the world.

UK – The UK submitted some questions to the World Health Organisation (WHO). WHO Recalled some points from the 58th CND session.  The UK scheduled NPS for first time, including mephedrone.  The UK government stands ready to assist governments on this matter. The UK government is also ready to institute blanket ban which does not include personal possession offences.  Only the first round of NPS was scheduled. A sustainable long-term international response to this problem is needed, which is why we submitted a set of questions to WHO. These questions pertain to Resolution58/11. The ECDD will reconvene in its December 2015 session to work on the recommendations. The WHO and UNODC should collaborate to select harmful substances for scheduling.

Questions posed to WHO are asked through the Secretariat. Confirmation is then needed from the ECDD that WHO will present a recommendation. There will be a substance by substance presentation discussing individual substances and why they have been recommended for certain controls.

When and how can Member States provide data and requests? When and how will the ECDD gather information from the INCB and UNODC?  We need reassurance that WHO will pass on recommendations to Geneva.

Secretariat – The Secretariat presented the response sent by WHO regarding the questions posed by the UK government.

  1. When will the ECDD take place? And will WHO present recommendations at the proposed reconvened session in December? If so, what form will it take?

Answer from WHO: The meeting dates of the 37th ECDD are from 16thto 20th November 2015.  The recommendations will be communicated to Member States through the WHO Director General and the UN Secretary General early in December 2015.  The reconvened meeting will be an opportunity for WHO to discuss recommendations with Member States. The presentation of recommendations will be carried out, substance by substance and will detail the rationale behind those recommendations for control and will allow time for questions.

  1. When and how can Member States provide data and information to assist the ECDD in making recommendations?

Answer from WHO: The agenda for the ECDD will be finalised and released at the end of June 2015 on the WHO website.  Member States will be informed through their individual missions in Geneva and official communications, and will be asked to provide data. They will be asked to provide information on substances to be evaluated, on the WHO website through the ECDD secretariat.

  1. When and how will the ECDD gather information from the UNODC and the INCB?

Answer from WHO:  The WHO is working with UNODC, the INCB and the EMCDDA and other sources as appropriate in order to identify substances that will be reviewed by the ECDD.  This should be based on available data about health harms and dependence. There should be ongoing cooperation through regular sharing of information about substances, use of tools for data collection and analysis.

  1. Will WHO be able to pass on all information to country missions in Vienna as well as in Geneva?

Answer from WHO: Information on the 37th ECDD such as dates, substances to be reviewed, peer reviewed, critical reviews, etc. will be displayed on the WHO website. Regular briefings in Geneva will also take place. Briefing sessions could also be organised in advance for missions in Vienna.

Canada – The Canadian delegation shares the UK delegation’s interest in the process of the ECDD, and appreciates the work that the Secretariat has done in getting information to respond to questions posed to the WHO by the UK government.

The Canadian delegation raises a few concerns. With the scheduling of the ECDD meeting near the end of November, it doesn’t leave much time for the report to be written and distributed in time for Canada to process the recommendations before the reconvened session in December. Last time around, it took the ECDD around 4 months to write the report.  Now there are only a couple of weeks and this seems ambitious.  Member States need a lot of time to process recommendations and generate a response. We therefore request that the Secretariat go back to the WHO with this in mind and see whether there is an opportunity to hold the meeting sooner or if it is possible to streamline the results so Member States can have enough time to react to information.

The communications with missions in Geneva makes sense, but we would find it helpful if the WHO and the ECDD would also try to take advantage of the network that the UNODC and the INCB already have in place.  The INCB has a list of competent national authorities and it seems like a natural conduit for information that the ECDD should consider using.  We are pleased that the WHO is planning on generating a list of recommendations based on prevalence and harmfulness and we would encourage the WHO to make use of the ‘hotlist’ generated by the UNODC Early Warning System, which would focus attention on the highest priority.  However, the main concern is the lack of time built into the process for Member States to receive information and react appropriately.  The reconvened meeting will be held in the second week of December.

Chair – The chair will convey these concerns to WHO. With regards to the reconvened session in December, we don’t need to take action at that session around concerns to scheduling.  Scheduling decisions take place in March. Hopefully WHO will come up with the report before March 2016.

Netherlands – The information that is being sent to the ECDD is of great importance, including that from the INCB. However, the INCB is already sending loads of information but there is a gap in information gathering from Member States, especially developing countries.  We understand that collecting data is very difficult because it doesn’t only focus on misuse, but also on availability of controlled substances for medical use.  We call on all countries to send data coming from hospitals and doctors about the availability and lack of availability of drugs, since this also needs to be taken into account, but unfortunately the ECDD does not always have the necessary data.

USA – The USA echoes the comments made by Canada with regards to the concerns of timing.

Although scheduling decisions are not made until March, could the ECDD meeting be organised at an earlier date?

UK –The UK have seen a good example of how UNODC and WHO can work together. We

hope that WHO can attend the intersessional sessions of CND. We are also concerned about the timing of the ECDD meeting. We have every confidence that WHO will be able to fulfil its obligations with regard to presenting in December.

Secretariat – The secretariat can confirm that we will inform the WHO colleagues about comments made during this meeting. Prior to this meeting, the WHO expressed that they will do their best to participate in upcoming intersessionals either in person or by video conferencing.

Canada – Canada requests a copy of the written response to the UK government questions posed to the WHO.

CHAIR – The WHO will be asked to rewrite their answers to the UK government questions so that they can be clearer. The Reconvened session of the CND will be held on 10th and 11th December 2015. There will be two additional formal meetings, adding up to one day for preparations on the UNGASS on 9th December. The next intersessional meeting will be held on 24th September 2015.

Agenda 12 item.  Strengthening the role of CND as a governing body.  Strategic framework for UNODC 2018-2019.  Recently nominated co-chairs from Czech Republic and Nicaragua will review. 

2.B Preparations for UNGASS 2016

UNGASS Board Chair – Several events have already taken place, including the High level thematic debate on the UNGASS in New York on 7th of May 2015. A regional meeting will also be held 27th June in Shanghai, hosted by the President of Tajikistan. These details should be on the UNGASS website. If any other events are taking place, you are invited to share the outcomes of expected deliberations and meetings.

The provisional agenda for the special segment to be held during the reconvened 58th session will be prepared during intersessionals. The provisional agenda has been approved at the regular session.

Two tasks, therefore need to be dealt with and will be subject to the resolution being approved by the General Assembly in opening paragraph 6 of Resolution 58/8.  We also ned to start preparation for the roundtables.

Five elements have been agreed and what remains is to address the organisational arrangements:  chairing, speakers, participants, will be determined by conference room availability and New York practices. We will continue liaising with the New York conference room management team and practical set up of facilities before we look into this in more detail.

The other big task as mentioned in the opening Paragraph 6(5) of Resolution 58/8 is the preparation of the outcome document to be recommended for adoption at the UNGASS 2016. The mandate should be clearly defined in the text of the resolution.  This would need to be finalised by the end of the March 2016 session. We want to stocktake will happen at the reconvened session in December this year – collective ownership of that work is important.

Regarding the format of the document, as per our mandate we are not requested to produce a new Political Declaration or Plan Of Action or a Joint Ministerial Statement.  We are requested to produce a short, substantive, concise and action-oriented document comprising a set of operational recommendations.

On the UNGASS website, an extensive mapping exercise has been conducted, reflecting a transparent and inclusive approach undertaken by the CND. There you can find a host of information by a broad range of stakeholders, specialised agencies, NGOs and CSOs, etc. collected through formal intersessional meetings, informal meetings, special events, lunchtime meetings, as well as written contributions received from all stakeholders.

The next important step is to compile issues for practical recommendations as per the opening Paragraph 6(5) and work closely with board members nominated by your respective regional group.  They will collect information from Member States by 11th September 2015 for inclusion in the document. This will help us to have input received as a basis for the compilation document for consideration by the Commission at the 24th September 2015 meeting.  Some of the Board members have already been contacting members of respective regional groups.

Netherlands – The Netherlands wishes to mention the report from the 7th May New York meeting.  The Netherlands saw the report this morning but expressed concerns about some elements that were discussed but left out of the report, for example, autonomy and flexibility were not even mentioned. If you really want to read what was discussed, google it or look it up on twitter.  Also with regards to the process, we shouldn’t start too early with drafting the recommendations for the outcome document. We should identify topics first and send in a list of 5, 10, 15 topics to see what we want reflected. Then we can organise special meetings with scientists, NGOs, UN agencies and then think collectively about recommendations. We have time from September to December 2015 to get all the inputs we want to have.

Also, will the UNGASS board send in a first draft? We hope that it is just a list of comments.  In September there are also a lot of meetings – does the UNGASS board have enough time to produce a first draft in time for September meeting?

Action-oriented recommendations are very important, so I hope we can move away from “recalling” previous document. Instead, let’s use the data from the World Drug Report and the EMCDDA and trends in drug markets. If we start with the trends, we can move towards action-oriented recommendations. My main point is not to rush into drafting but to think of what kind of topics we want to have for the recommendations.

Mexico – It is best to start with a paper on issues, which would help us to identify areas in which we can develop ideas.  It is important that this does not deviate from the agreed, open-ended format. It should not be a way of limiting debate, but a way to reach out and get inputs that have been received from other sources – these must be included within a regional issues paper. We also believe that the meetings of the Human Rights Council and the WHO will resolve important elements which should be included. If the UNGASS board preparation is only a preliminary draft, then that is fine.

USA – We welcome the structure that the Secretariat proposed and the path ahead with regional board members.  We also agree it is time to start identifying issues and collecting ideas. The debates we have had so far include the CND in March and the New York meeting in May which identified Member States’ views and indicated a general direction forward.  The USA has been working on a non-paper on UNGASS recommendations which provides food for thought as we begin regional meetings.  We will send this to the WIAG chair for distribution to Member States.  At the moment, we are still waiting for clearance from Washington but we should be able to distribute next week.

Ecuador – The New York meeting was useful with high-level participation from many countries.  We are at a critical milestone. The President of the General Assembly at the end of the high level thematic debate complained that the report of the debate should be taken as input for the zero draft document.  The process of negotiation should start as soon as possible before September 2015 in a transparent manner. The Joint Ministerial Statement schedule was constrained by time.  With a longer schedule we can allow many interests to be reflected in a zero-draft document.  Ecuador reiterates the necessity of an inclusive process, joining other voices; the DPA, the UNAIDS, the UNDP and the wider involvement of Civil Society representatives.

Guatemala – The Guatemalan delegation is very much in line with what was said by previous speakers. There should be preparations of a draft by Member States but our emphasis is on the idea that it should be shared and made up of contributions from all the stakeholders in order to not have any surprises.  We will put in inputs and help develop a concise, beautiful document. Right now, there has to be a different approach by not repeating what was said in previous years.  We need to put a lot of effort into a “new optic” — what we really want is a draft that we can work with and be happy with, short and concise.

Switzerland – Switzerland underlines an inclusive preparatory process. Switzerland quotes the resolution — “by actively participating in preparations”. The question is how are we going to implement this?  There ought to be a window for the Civil Society Task Force aside from the window for regional groups.  Also, we should take into account input from other parts of the UN system as they may become available.  The OHCHR will wait for the discussion on drugs and Human Rights that will take place during the Human Rights Council that ends on 2nd October 2015. We expect the UNGASS board to actively solicit views of all stakeholders.  These should come in a timely manner, preferably during the second half of this year. Although it is difficult to draft an outcome document before actual discussion takes place we do know the structure of that discussion because of five roundtables we’ve had. We should use this template for the outcome document as well.  This would facilitate consolidation of different regional contributions if we follow these lines.

Colombia – The process should be inclusive and transparent. We would like to highlight the New York event with active participation of many countries and civil society organisations. Many do not have permanent representation in Vienna but voices were heard. We are looking forward to the President’s summary.  We appreciate the Human Rights Council initiative to prepare contributions for the UNGASS.  Within the Framework of World Health Assembly 68th Session, 11 countries including Colombia, the Global Commission on Drug Policy and WHO, held a high level side event on a public health approach to the world drug problem. Through this event, we showed the relevance of involvement of other agencies of the UN system in preparation for UNGASS and with regards to the methodology of the zero draft document, according to the Resolution 58/8, a regional approach may be limited as this leaves out individual Member States’ approach from countries not represented in Vienna. The Secretariat invites all Member States of the UN to make or write in contributions within a certain date. This should include civil society organisations, academia and other specialised agencies. This would be circulated in a document and should be the basis for an open-ended working group and would set the basis for a zero draft document which could be compiled in late 2015.

Norway – We agree with the comments made today regarding the importance for space for other UN agencies and civil society.  Regarding the document we have one comment — we would like to see a document that clearly states which measures work and in which areas change is needed. We would like to comment on the way panels were organised at the CND meeting in spring.  All panels included civil society speakers and civil society was called on to make contributions.  We hope this will be an example for the UNGASS and the process leading up to it.

Russia – Russia supports the proposal of the UNGASS Board. We welcome the input of interested parties but the final decision should be made by governments.  Inclusive approaches should lead us to precise, short, and oriented document.

Uruguay – We see the importance of a transparent process. We don’t have to rush in having a first draft. We need inputs from civil society and other organisations. We need written inputs, to establish a date, preferably by the second half of this year.  Important meetings have taken place in Geneva and New York and we need to incorporate comments and recommendations in the first document.

Iran – We need a lot of time but will this hinder creating a short document? We also need to listen to all, but the resolution requests the CND to produce this document.  The final document should be produced by the commission, but before that we can listen to all, and other organisations etc. can send information to the WHO website.

Nicaragua – Nicaragua supports the way forward proposed by the CND Chair and the precise mandate of the CND to produce the document. However, if information is coming from all over the place, it will not result in a short and substantive document.  We understand the claim for inclusive and a transparent process, however, delegations should consider inputs of all relevant stakeholders sent to them and through them they could channel to Commission. Every delegation is free to communicate with all stakeholders.  If the mandate is that the Commission produce the document it should be with inputs of Member States, but Member States can decide on inputs and include Civil Society from their respective countries.

Peru – Peru echoes other countries. We should use the UNGASS website to gather inputs.

Chair – We are moving into the beginning of the process, which will take a substantially long time.  As Ecuador was mentioning, during the Joint Ministerial Statement there was not enough time and you will recall how many months we spent on it. The task at hand is more time consuming because we need to make it concise in terms of a final outcome, therefore we do need to start.  With regards to inclusiveness we refer to the statement made by our colleague from Norway. We thank her for the roundtable model, this already is something established and underway. Responsibility is with regional groups to provide inputs and it is up to each regional group.  No one is going to dictate what inputs you produce and it is the prerogative of regional groups to decide, so we really do need to start working. The first step is for regional groups to provide recommendations and we are not talking about drafting yet. We have a host of inputs from a host of stakeholders on the UNGASS website, please read that and get in touch with various stakeholders.  We work very closely with all stakeholders and with the Civil Society Task Force.  We don’t have much time to be able to conclude our task. This is a collective responsibility of all. I would urge you to start discussions and consultations within your respective regional group to be able to produce as soon as possible your proposals and regional group proposals for inclusion in the draft document to be adopted at UNGASS 2016.  We thank the US delegation for the ideas they will share.

Mexico – We have no problem channelling our input through members of the Board, however, should they then be forwarded to a second line of negotiations?  If so, this would deviate from the way things should be done.  We are confused about the steps to be taken. We would like to request a clarification of this.

Chair – Regarding what I said at the beginning – each member of the Board will contact the regional group that he is representing and the members of that group and it is up to the members of each group to have informal or formal meetings to come up with the regional recommendations; the recommendation of each region for inclusion in the final document. That is how we are going to proceed.  These recommendations will be worked into a draft.  That draft will be the basis for the beginning of the negotiation and consultation process. With the input coming from the regional groups as a pre-negotiation phase.

Netherlands – Some regional groups do not coordinate on substances. Could national positions be presented?  And then say that this is the regional position? We hope that members of the board are available in September to do this compilation which is not an easy task.

Mexico – This is not favourable. We want to coordinate trans-regionally. We do not view this as a regional problem, although we constantly coordinate with our partners in GRLAC and OAS.  We appeal for the first compilation to be an “issues paper” to avoid a long drama, rather than an agreed language process.

Chair – There will be special events in addition to intersessional meetings. Relevant persons should contact the secretariat as soon as possible to make necessary organisational arrangements.

VNGOC (Esbjörn Hörnberg) – As it is the first time I am addressing you after the 58th session of CND, allow me to express the content of VNGOC members and other civil society colleagues about the level of involvement of NGO speakers during the interactive discussion at CND.

We are confident that the remaining UNGASS preparations will continue to give civil society the possibility to contribute in a meaningful manner. We stand ready to provide you with input from civil society through the task force.

For that purpose, we have been working on different avenues: 6 May 2015 in New York we had the Fifth Civil Society Hearing in preparation for the UN General Assembly High-Level Thematic Debate on Drugs: The Role of Civil Society in supporting a multi-dimensional and multi-stakeholder approach in addressing the world drug problem. This was co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Brazil to the United Nations, the Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations and the Permanent Mission of the United States of America.

We have distributed the UNGASS 2016 Global Civil Society Survey for all our membership and civil society colleagues around the world. The Survey is designed to provide an initial assessment on the civil society work in the field of drugs, as well as to assess the awareness and level of knowledge and interest in participating actively at the UNGASS 2016 initiative at the regional and global levels. The results will provide an overview of (i) the work of NGOs active in the drug field, (ii) areas of expertise, (iii) key priorities and concerns to be addressed (iv) best practices as well as (v) expected results and desired outcomes for UNGASS 2016. The survey is available in several languages, and can be accessed at the VNGOC website, www.vngoc.org. And we invite you to share the survey with civil society colleagues in your countries.

The next issue is Regional and Thematic Consultations. People we want to be included include:

  • Special populations with i.e. farmers, users of drugs, experience of treatment services and recovery, those with the interests of children and families, carers, families and friends, etc.).
  • NGO treatment providers and users of these services; also prevention services where relevant.
  • Local academia and the research community
  • Groups who are often excluded such as First Nations peoples.
  • People who do not have access to the full range of responses to drug use including treatment and prevention services,
  • People lacking access to essential medicines
  • Other particular groups that might be especially relevant in their local context.

Topics for the consultations are built on the thematic areas as underlined by CND UNGASS 2016 Special segment: a) Drugs and Health; b) Drugs and Crime; c) Drugs and Human Rights, Youth, Women, Children and Communities; d) New challenges; and e) Alternative Development

Event we are focusing on:

  • Civil Society Hearing in New York around 22-24 September 2015.
  • Civil Society Event during the Third Committee meeting in October, NY.
  • A technical workshop on Health and Drugs, organised by the WHO in Geneva for Civil Society in late October.
  • Workshop with the entire Civil Society Task Force in NY in late January 2016.

Two additional remarks: To fulfil our list of activities, please note that we haven’t closed our accounts for funding. Those member states who want to support our civil society work are welcome to do so. On 27thMay, the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations recommended VNGOC for special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council.

Civil Society Task Force (Katherine Pettus) – I am the Civil Society Task Force Representative for Affected Populations living in countries with no or low access to internationally controlled essential medicines such as morphine and methadone for palliative care and opioid assisted treatment.

With regard to preparations for UNGASS 2016, Resolution 58/8 para 5. “requests the Commission on Narcotic Drugs to produce a short, substantive, concise and action-oriented document comprising a set of operational recommendations, based upon a review of the implementation of the Political Declaration and Plan of Action”.

The regional and national associations of populations affected populations with low or no access to internationally controlled essential medicines in more than 80% of the world are working hard, with limited resources, to address this urgent issue. As a start, to prepare for UNGASS, we propose the following two operational recommendations:

  • that CND recognise inadequate reference to the problem of lack of access in the PD and POA;
  • that CND develop a concrete action plan on ensuring the adequate availability of controlled medicines for the relief of pain and suffering.
  • A global working committee led by the most affected member states that are already taking steps to improve the situation on the ground would develop this action plan. Partners would include states that have expressed concern about the issue at CND, and are providing, or are interested in providing, funding and technical assistance to support efforts on the ground.
  • WHO as well as the global, regional, and national palliative care associations striving to improve access to medicines on the ground would provide technical advice.  Currently, although WHO as yet has no dedicated funding, from any member state, to improve access to internationally controlled essential medicines, it has staff on the ground in many affected countries.
  • WHO is also in a position to contribute technical resources and guidelines.

We envision one recommendation of this global working group will be the training of healthcare providers and narcotics police in order to bridge the knowledge gap resulting from decades of dependence on a supply control model, and over-regulation and suppression of access to opioid pain relievers in many countries.

A further priority would be to collaborate with national and regional palliative care associations to determine the appropriate and attainable indicators and targets to be included in the action-oriented report to be presented at UNGASS 2016.

Suggested affected member states to lead the global working group would be incoming CND members Kenya and Uganda, as well as current members, Benin, Tanzania, and Nigeria in the African Region.  Ministries of Health, working with regional and national associations in these countries, are pulling out all the stops, have already begun to draft new laws and regulations, streamline procurement, and train frontline personnel in palliative care coverage.  Despite the fact, however, that morphine consumption in those African countries has doubled in the past year, both Kenya and Uganda are still shy of 10% coverage of persons in need, citing the need for training, mostly of doctors, nurses, and pharmacists.

The Common African Position for UNGASS has already called for greater support to ensure the provision of opiates and other essential and controlled medicines for palliative care and pain relief, as enshrined in the international drug conventions, to remove barriers that prevent the import, distribution and use of these essential medicines. The proposed action plan will generate that practical support by laying out the precise parameters of the problem in each region and proposing specific targets and indicators appropriate for each context.

Partners in the Asian region such as India and Malaysia, and in Latin America, are also working hard to solve this problem that has such a drastic impcat on all their citizens. The governments of Colombia, Bolivia, Argentina, Panama, Peru, and Mexico, to name only a few, are supporting regulatory and legislative changes to improve opioid consumption.

All the affected states need a lot more support under the principle of mutual and shared responsibility, however, to to bring consumption levels up to WHO approved standards. The governments of the US, UK, Ireland, Italy and Denmark, and Australia are already providing funding for the efforts of national associations and ministries of health in many countries where consumption is less than optimal. The colleagues in this assembly from Switzerland, Norway, Lithuania, and the EU collectively have all expressed concern, and would be welcome partners on the global pre-UNGASS working group.

Speaking as a member of the Civil Society Task Force, I hope that the Board and CND will consider carefully this suggestion to develop a concrete action plan to improve access, availability, and affordability of internationally controlled essential medicines for the relief of pain and suffering as mandated by the preamble of the Single Convention.

Belgium – On the 22nd to 25th June, the Heads of National Law Enforcement Authorities (HONLEA) with the UNODC cooperation will take place in Brussels, Belgium.

Chair – The chair gives a further update on the HONLEA event in Belgium, and then the Special event on the 26th of June, 2pm and the launch of the World Drug Report and the Day Against Drug Abuse.  The chair also mentions the International Conference on Alternative Development in Thailand on November the 19th-24th 2015 which will be combined with a briefing by the Permanent Mission of Thailand

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